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One Bright Pearl

by Master Dogen Ki-gen

"Dig in thine own field for this Pearl of Eternity that lies hidden in it; it cannot cost thee too much, nor canst thou buy it too dear; for it is ALL; and when thou hast found it, thou wilt know, that all which thou hast sold or given away (or 'lost') for it, is as a mere nothing, as a bubble upon the water." ~ William Law

The Light of Consciousness Centuries ago in China, Master Tsung-i would instruct others by saying, "The whole universe is One Bright Pearl." (cf. 'Consciousness is all there is')

"One Bright Pearl" thoroughly expresses it even though not itself revealed in its name, and we can recognize it in its name.

"One Bright Pearl" directly transcends the eons, and because in eternal past it never ceased to be, it reaches up to the eternal present.

Though there is one's mind now and one's body now, they are just the One Bright Pearl. This grass or that tree are not grass and tree, nor are the mountains and rivers of the world mountains and rivers; they are One Bright Pearl.

Thus, the Bright Pearl, existing just so and being beginningless, transcends changes in time and place. The whole universe is One Bright Pearl.

 We do not speak of two or three pearls, and so the entirety is one True Dharma Eye, the Body of Reality, One Expression. The entirety is Brilliant Light, One Mind.

When [the Bright Pearl] is the entirety, nothing hinders it. Round [like a pearl], it rolls around and around.

When it is just so, it hangs suspended in space, it is hidden in the linings of clothing, it is held under the chin [of a dragon], and it is worn in the hair topknot.' All these are the One Bright Pearl as the whole universe.

It is its nature to be attached to the lining of clothing, so never say that it is attached to the surface. It is its nature to be guarded under the chin [of a dragon] or kept in a topknot, so do not think that it is found on the surface.

Thus, though on the surface there may seem to be change or, no change [i.e., enlightenment or no enlightenment], it is the One Bright Pearl. Realizing it is so is itself the One Bright Pearl. The shapes and sounds of the Bright Pearl are seen in this way.

Do not doubt that you, yourself, are the Bright Pearl by thinking, "I am not the Bright Pearl". Confusion and doubts, affirmations and negations, these are nothing but the ephemeral, small responses of ordinary folk; however, still, they are [the Bright Pearl] appearing as small, ephemeral responses.

Should we not appreciate it? The Bright Pearl's colors and brilliance are boundless. Color after color and every scintillation of light are the merit of the whole universe. Could anything ever snatch them away? Would anyone ever toss away even a simple rock tile in the marketplace [while looking for the pearl]?

Do not be anxious about being reborn in one of the six realms of cause an effect. The Bright Pearl, which from beginning to end is essential! uninvolved [with cause and effect], is your original face, your enlightened nature.

However, you and I, unaware of what the Bright Pearl is and is not, entertain countless doubts and nondoubts about it and turn them into indubitable fodder for the mind. But the Master's expression has made it clear that our own minds and bodies are the One Bright Pearl, and so we realize that our minds are not ours.

Who can be anxious as to whether birth and death are or are not the Bright Pearl? Even if there is doubt and anxiety, they are the Bright Pearl.

There is not a single activity or thought that is not the Bright Pearl, and, consequently, both advancing and retreating in the Black Mountain Cave of demons is nothing but the One Bright Pearl.

Kosho Horin-ji, 1238

Abridged from "Sounds of Valley Streams",
Translated by Francis H. Cook


"The Truth is far more all-encompassing than the mind could ever comprehend. No thought can encapsulate the Truth. At best, it can point to it. For example, it can say: "All things are intrinsically one (One Bright Pearl)." That is a pointer, not an explanation. Understanding these words means feeling deep within you the truth to which they point. ~ Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks.

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